“Good Bye Sweetheart, Good Bye” - Civil War Ballad (1863)
“Good Bye Sweetheart, Good Bye,” a ballad written in 1863, depicts someone reluctantly leaving a loved one in order to serve in the Civil War. Composed by Englishmen John Liptrot Hatton and published in Columbia, South Carolina, this piece has ties to the Confederate States of America. “Good Bye Sweetheart, Good Bye” publisher George Dunn, of George Dunn & Company, aided in the publication of music pieces such as “The Southern Soldier Boy,” “God Save the Southern Land,” and “Awake! A Southern War Song” along with “Good Bye Sweetheart, Good Bye.” All of these pieces, along with various other forms of print, are called Confederate imprints. Confederate imprints are documents printed in the seceeded southern states during the Civil War and are some of the most important sources for researchers who study the Confederacy and the Civil War.
It is clear that the Confederacy greenlit the publication of this piece in order to resonate with newly enlisted soldiers and the people they were leaving behind. However, “Good Bye Sweetheart, Good Bye” survived the Civil War. The song continued to be performed and was eventually recorded in the 1900s. With each new production and performance, the connection to the Confederacy blurred and even disappeared. For example, John McCormack’s version (1913) was uploaded to YouTube in 2010. Accompanying the music is a black and white video of various American cities from what appears to be the early 1900s. While the video captures the sentimental tone of the song, it loses the connection to the Civil War and the Confederacy.
“Good Bye Sweetheart, Good Bye” can be viewed by visiting Special Collections at the University of Southern Mississippi or online. To view this item, visit Special Collections in McCain Library & Archives room 305 or contact Jennifer Brannock at or 601.266.4347.
- “Goodbye Sweetheart, Goodbye” - Duke University Digital Archives
- “Civil War Sheet Music Collection” - Library of Congress
- “John Liptrot Hatton” - Wikipedia
Text by Jacob Featherling, Public History Intern and History MA Student